Webinar 101 for Newbies
Would you like to learn from my mistakes and successes during my most recent webinar? Yesterday, I gave a live webinar for the first time in probably 8 years. I decided it was time to jump back into the game. If you are thinking about hosting a webinar some time in the near future, here are some tips and tricks from a webinar rookie.
First of all, do your research. There are many webinar software platforms out there now, even though GoToWebinar has yet to be dethroned as the king of them all. Each one has its own unique set of features, and its own problems too.
Here’s what I discovered during my research:
- I’ve never been a big fan of GoToWebinar. The webinars themselves seem to go as planned, (in other words, it works) but I don’t like the fact that you have to load up another app to join the event. From a presenter’s perspective, the dashboard makes sense, for the most part, and it’s easy enough to find what you are looking for. But from a marketer’s perspective, you need quite a few add-ons to make it really sing.
- But we are have choices now! There are some other great options to choose from, such as WebinarNinja, WebinarJam, and WebinarJeo. Each of these have so many things going for them, and some major disadvantages as well.
- And the great thing is that you can sign-up for a free trial for almost all of the webinar programs out there, including GoToWebinar. So, my advice is to sign up for a few and try them out. That way, you can choose based off your experience, rather than a sales page.
About a month before my webinar, I signed up for WebinarJam, WebinarNinja, and WebinarJeo, since I have already used GoToWebinar and knew pretty much what to expect from that one since it hasn’t really changed in 8 years.
Frankly, I liked aspects of all of them, but I was also frustrated with all of them. In WebinarNinja, it is super simple to set up your first webinar. And then once it’s created, it stops being so simple. It seemed that at every turn, I got stuck and needed to contact support. Their support was good, responding in about 24 hours, but I couldn’t seem to just get through anything on my own. And I’m not super technologically challenged. If you are, what then?
WebinarJeo has great promise. There is so much I love about this software. Only during my testing, I was unable to get my Keynote presentation to show in the replay. Support gave me a few things to try, but I didn’t press through the difficulties very hard. The problem was that I had simultaneously tried out WebinarJam and there were several features that I really wanted that neither WebinarJeo nor anyone else seemed to have.
WebinarJam is amazing from a marketer’s perspective. It integrates with my email service provider, and has some great features, such as displaying offers, running polls, and embedding previously recorded video right into the presentation with just a click of the mouse. Plus, the replays are really nice and customizable too. The downside to WebinarJam is that its software uses Google Hangouts for the live streaming. Because of this, there is a delay from the time you present until the time the viewer hears your voice and sees your video. The delay can be as long as 30-60 seconds in the beginning, but then reduces over the course of the webinar, so that by the end, the delay is only a couple seconds long.
I decided to put up with the nuisance of the delay and use WebinarJam for my re-entry into the webinar world. I think it was a good choice. I did make one rather large mistake during my presentation (I logged in as both presenter and attendee which used up too much bandwidth and caused some audio buffering issues during the live event) which is easily correctable so that I won’t do that again in the future.
Here are a few more things I learned during the webinar preparation phase:
- Once you choose a webinar platform, get everything set up well ahead of time.
- Watch the tutorials and ask as many questions as you can before your live event.
- Practice your webinar more than once. You will find little things you want to tweak both in the software and in your presentation before the live event.
- Set-up multiple webinar dates and times if you can. What you learn during your first LIVE webinar will be invaluable to you when you go into your second or third presentation.
- Get really comfortable with the set-up and the controls of your webinar room. Like I said before, the more you practice and click around the webinar room, the less frantic you will feel when you have guests there with you LIVE.
In truth, the preparation phase went fairly smoothly and quickly, much better than the time-consuming research phase. I felt very prepared and even stayed away from the computer most of the day of the first webinar. I felt calm. Was it the calm before the storm?
Actually, my first live presentation went mostly well. There were a couple of problems that came up that I will fix for the next go around – one was technical and one was with the content. I can avoid the technical problem next time (I used up too much bandwidth and that affected some listener’s audio), and I can re-write the content problem.
Since I have two more identical presentations to go, I’m feeling pretty good about the whole experience. I hope these lessons I’ve learned will be helpful for you when you present your first webinar (or switch to a new webinar platform).
Have fun presenting!